As in many areas of his life and career, Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings took an unconventional route in regard to his education. He didn’t finish high school in the way most students do. Instead, he went back later and earned his General Equivalency Diploma.
So on Thursday, Hastings was a natural choice to serve as guest speaker for Southern State Community College’s “Recognition Celebration” for GED recipients through the school’s Adult Opportunity Center, and his remarks were often noticeably personal in nature.
Hastings told the assembled GED recipients, who wore traditional graduation caps and gowns, along with assembled family members, friends and others who filled the auditorium at the Hillsboro campus, that the successes he has had in business, comedy and politics “all happened after I got my GED.”
Hastings said that throughout his life as he attempted to complete various goals, “Something got in the way. What got in the way was me.”
The mayor avoided employing his trademark humor during most of his remarks, although he garnered laughs when he noted, “You don’t need the key to success if you know how to pick the lock.”
Hastings told a story he said “I don’t talk about very often,” relating how, when he was only 7 years old, his father left his mother. He described it as a “painful time,” but “I used that pain in my life to drive me.”
Hastings warned GED recipients not to let fear stop them from pursuing their goals.
“Fear holds people back,” said the mayor.
He also advised against settling for less than what they wanted to achieve, and urged them to pursue their dreams. He said friends will present them with opportunities for jobs because “there’s an opening” where they work.
“Often,” he said, “that opening is just a big hole.”
Kevin Boys, president of SSCC, said he particularly appreciates each year’s adult opportunities ceremony among all the graduation ceremonies he attends.
“Keep this a secret,” he said. “This is my favorite.”
In remarks included in the ceremony’s program, Boys said, “Each diploma recipient has a story; each one unique, but alike in that they all elected to aspire to a common goal… They are stories of finding hope, aspiring to new goals, and achieving new dreams. We recognize that they did not arrive at this moment without sacrifices. Nor did their families.”
In a message from Karyn Evans, dean of the Adult Opportunity Center, Evans said, “We are grateful to supportive families whose encouragement makes such a difference as the students are working toward their goals. Never doubt the importance of that role; it can mean the difference between success and failure.”
Many young children were in the audience Thursday, cheering on parents who were receiving diplomas.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.